Friday, December 12, 2014

Wolf Soup

It's really a shame that I didn't take the time to take a more artistic picture of this soup because it really is fantastic.  This quick snap shot of the soup pot doesn't convey how creamy and flavorful this simple soup is.  Charlotte got seconds and Evan ate all that was in his bowl.  Evan (the potato hater) said he didn't even mind the potatoes in it.  Jon took leftovers to work for lunch two days in a row.  If you know my family, you'll know this is a BIG deal for a soup recipe.

Don't worry. There are no wolves in this soup.  I named it Wolf soup because it's adapted from a recipe called "Mother Wolff Soup".  So, Wolf Soup seemed close enough.  Plus the kids think the name is funny.

Wolf Soup (Makes a ton but freezes well)
Adapted from "Sundays At Moosewood Restaurant's "Mother Wolff Soup")

Part 1
3 quarts water
1 quart chicken stock
1 cup dried beans (I like dried limas), soaked overnight and then drained
3 cloves garlic, peeled, left whole (the garlic is a must and will get very mellow and rich with such a long cooking time.  Leave it whole and it'll dissolve into the soup, eventually, during cooking)

1 cup brown rice

Part 2
1 cup diced onion (2-3 medium onions)
1 cup diced celery
~ 3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. paprika (sweet, not smoked)
1 1/2 cups diced potatoes
1 1/2 cups diced sweet potatoes
1 1/2 cups diced carrots
Salt and Pepper to taste  (I ended up adding close to 2 Tbsp. of salt)

2 cups peas (you'll add these last so they don't turn to mush)

In a large pot, bring water, chicken stock, beans, and garlic to a boil and then lower heat to simmer. Simmer for 1 hour or until beans are almost tender. Add rice and simmer another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When the above beans and rice are almost done, in a skillet, sauté onions and celery in olive oil until onions are tender and translucent. 
Add onions, celery, and the rest of the ingredients to the soup pot EXCEPT FOR THE PEAS. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer.  Simmer soup for about an hour, stirring occasionally so it doesn't stick.  The veggies will get soft and start to break down.  Stop cooking when they've reached the level of doneness that you want.  Turn off the burner and then stir in the peas.  Check for seasonings. Serve.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cheesy Soda Bread

We needed a quick bread to have with soup last night and I came across this recipe on King Arthur's website. Knowing how much my family loves cheese, I figured it was a sure bet they'd love it. And they did.  It's buttery, cheesy smell had me wishing that I could eat dairy.  The edges get a little crispy like the edges of baked macaroni and cheese.   A perfect partner to a good bowl of soup.

Cheesy Soda Bread (aka: King Arthur Flour's Cabot Cheddar Soda Bread)
  • 2 1/2 cups flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pats
  • 8 ounces sharp or extra-sharp cheddar, grated; about 2 cups, lightly packed
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk (or 1/4 cup sour cream or yogurt and 1 cup milk)
  • 1 large egg

  • Cabot's original loaf was a freeform round. To make a round loaf, make a stiffer dough by reducing the buttermilk to 1 cup (or use 3/4 cup plain yogurt and 1/4 cup milk). Shape the dough into a round, place it on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown.


1) Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease an 8" square or 9" round pan.
2) In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3) Add the butter, working it into the flour until the mixture is crumbly. Toss in the grated cheese.
4) Mix the buttermilk and egg, and add to the dry ingredients, stirring just until everything is moistened.
5) Scoop the sticky dough into the pan, using your wet fingers to spread it to the edges of the pan.  I also sprinkled some extra cheese on the top of the dough before putting it in the oven. 
6) Bake the bread for 40 to 45 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Its internal temperature at the center will be close to 200°F. **It took closer to 50 minutes for our bread to be cooked all the way. 
7) Remove the bread from the oven, and loosen the edges with a table knife. Let cool for about 5 minutes before slicing.  

**The bread can get a little dry the next day so warm leftovers in a toaster oven and top with butter to help moisten it. 

 We had this cheesy bread with Wolf soup last night. It was a match made in heaven. I'll post my soup recipe tomorrow. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Weekly Chronicle

Snuggle nap time

More homemade almond butter. This time I accidentally roasted the almonds longer then I meant to but luckily they didn't burn.  It has a deeply roasted flavor that's really good.

Santa sent letters to the kids and autographed pictures of himself and Rudolf! The kids were thrilled and couldn't believe how well Santa new them!  (and yes, Evan is wiping his nose with his shirt. *sigh*)

Baking day.  Pumpkin bread x 4 and made in bigger pans and chocolate zucchini muffins (don't tell Charlotte they contain the Z-word). 

Time to deck the halls

Roasted sweet potatoes have to be one of the world's most delicious foods.

Jon's aunt sent me a pair of socks I knitted her last year in hopes that I could repair the large hole in the heel. I was thrilled to see the hole because that meant that she loved them enough to wear them out! Luckily I was able to patch them and I hope they can keep her feet warm for another winter in Vermont.

Jon took the kids with him to march in the Christmas parade and while they were waiting for the band kids to get picked up by parents, Evan sat down at the drum set.  Jon said he has a lot of natural talent. It's no wonder with a drummer for an Uncle and a band director for a dad.  I wonder if we're destined to have a drum set in our house.

Jon took the kids to the parade because I had a Christmas party to go to.  I don't usually dress up and put much effort into hair/makeup so I thought I'd document the occasion. It was nice to feel like a grown up for a night.  I even wore a bracelet! Shocking!

Small pancakes +

Maple Cream = Pure Heaven (in pancake sandwich form)!     I was feeling generous this weekend and shared my Maple Cream that I was given as a Christmas gift. I love that stuff.... and now so do the kids!

The train village has been set up in the garage.  Evan celebrated by performing a dance in his pj's (actually, he just doesn't ever stay still).

We'll move the train village into the playroom once school/daycare closes for Christmas.

Almost done decorating.  Our tree's light on top have conked out so I have wrapped a strand around for now. I need to go back and add more to the top.

The kid's school had a Santa and Polar Express night so they go to visit with Santa and watch Polar Express in their PJ's.    How tall can this girl possibly get??

According to the advent calendars in the house, we have 17 days left until Christmas! Yay!  I love this time of year so much that I'm torn between wanting it to go slowly so I can savor it and wanting it to hurry up and get here.  Either way, I'm loving it. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


I love when a plan comes together. Jon and I "ordered" snow for our Thanksgiving/Christmas PA trip.... and we got what we ordered!  We left a day earlier to avoid having to drive through it and got t enjoy watching it fall.
Luckily it was a "warm" snow day and the kids were able to stay outside for a long time without getting cold.

On our first day in PA, we helped pack up Jon's Aunt Rene since she's moving to an apartment.

The kids played while we packed.

Polly LOVES the snow. She runs and bounces around like a bunny.  She pushes her nose through the snow and takes big bites of it.

She's listening so well now that she was able to run off leash without a fence at Jon's parent's house.  If you click on the pictures to enlarge them, you can see her better.

Bunny Poodle!

The only problem with a snow Poodle is the snow balls that get created on their fluff.  I had to wash her legs with warm water to melt the snow balls each time we went out to play. Do they make snow suits for dogs?

Thanksgiving Day

Light up night! Grammy waits to turn on the Christmas lights until after dinner on Thanksgiving. 

The next morning was Christmas! The kids were vibrating with excitement... and Polly was too but didn't know why.

We will be buying a new camera in the next day or two... which is a good thing because capturing a non-blurry picture inside is really hard with my borrowed camera.

Jon's parents got him a wood splitting ax.  He can't wait to use it.... and I'm not even joking.

Aunt Betty is in a rehab hospital hoping to heal from a spinal cord injury and she was very disappointed that she wouldn't be able to meet Polly.  After getting permission (and signing waivers) from the hospital, we were allowed to bring Polly with us to visit her.  I was really curious to see how she'd do since this was her first time in a hospital-like setting.  I was very glad we'd practiced with wheel chairs in class.

Before Aunt Betty was brought to the visiting room, I took Polly around and let her check out the room.  When I point and ask her to "Look", she sniffs and investigates what I've pointed to. It's not something I intentionally taught her but she picked it up anyhow. It's pretty handy.  Did I mention that I brought turkey to use for treats? Polly approves of Thanksgiving. 

I knit Aunt Betty a shawl to keep her warm and to remind her that we were thinking of her often.  Polly was very relaxed around Betty and her wheel chair.

Though you can't tell from this picture... she was happy to be there. She was only nervous when the janitor came in to change the trash.   Aunt Betty loved seeing her and couldn't get over how soft her topknot was. 

I lured her with turkey to let Aunt Betty pet her for a good long time.  It was so great to visit with Aunt Betty and I was so proud of Polly. 

The next day was "Move Aunt Rene to her new apartment" Day. 

Guess who came home with us? 

Yep, that's a deer head in our van, ready to come home.  Jon always loved Uncle Sunny's deer so we took it home. Surprisingly no one else wanted it.... hehe.  The deer named Moonlight/Fred/Bob will be hung in the garage and Jon plans to hang his hats on it.  Polly was scared at first but now loves her new friend.

Whew, a busy but great trip! Happy Thanksgiving!

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